Islam and Secularism in the Middle East
Secularism has often been regarded as a positive achievement of Western civilization. The separation of church and state, the rule of law, enhanced state power and authority, toleration of religious sects within an independent civil society, the citizen’s freedom from organized religion, the relegation of religious belief to the private sphere – all such ‘secularizing trends’ are perceived as benefits. However in the Arab Middle East, Western-inspired secularism is increasingly cited as the source of the region’s social dislocation and political instability. This text is a contribution to such a debate. It examines the origins and growth of the movement to abolish the secularizing reforms of the past century by creating a political order guided by Shariah law.
John L. Esposito is Professor of Religion and International Affairs at Georgetown University, Washington, DC. A consultant to the Dept. of State, he is author of Unholy War: Terror in the Name of Islam (OUP, 2002) and editor in chief of the Oxford Encylopedia of the Modern Islamic World.
Azzam Tamimi is founder of the Institute of Islamic Political Thought in London and author of Rachid Ghannouchi: A Democrat Within Islamism(Oxford University Press, 2001).